KEROSENE PRICE GOES OVERBOARD, COMMONERS GROAN

Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), known as kerosene, hit an alltime high price of N600 per litre at the weekend, worsening the pains of over 30 million households who depend on the product for cooking. In its place, millions of poor Nigerians who use it for their stoves, lanterns, and other purposes, are now seeking alternatives to the very important and most commonly used petroleum product.

They have now resorted to the use of charcoal, firewood and polythene bags to make fire to cook for their homes. More fortunate Nigerians use gas cookers, even though the price of gas has also been on the rise. The scarcity hit major cities across the country, with most retail outlets in Abuja, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Kano, Kaduna and Abia states going out of stock.

The Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), known as cooking gas, also remained high at the weekend selling at N320 per kilogram. A survey by the OTL, organisers of Nigeria’s biggest downstream seminar and exhibition, showed that over 30 million Nigerian households use kerosene for cooking and for light as well as fuel for local lanterns.

The scarcity of the product, checks by New Telegraph revealed at the weekend, worsened with the product selling between N200 and N600 per litre nationwide, depending on proximity of the area to Lagos, where the loading depots for the product are situated.

DPK has been deregulated and majority of marketers, who hitherto reduced importation of the product, this newspaper gathered, have now halted importation due to difficulty in accessing foreign exchange. “The shutdown of refineries that produce DPK through which the market is augmented, is another major problem,” a marketer told New Telegraph.

“The Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) is now the major importer of the product and except the majors, most of the independent marketers, if not all, depend on loading from PPMC’s depots. And this explains reasons for the scarcity,” he added.

The price of cooking gas has also skyrocketed, making it unaffordable to some middle income earners, some of who have reverted to kerosene as a cheaper source of energy. “This has also increased the pressure on kerosene and contributed to its scarcity, because it contributes to the high demand for the scarce product with limited supply,” the marketer said.

New Telegraph’s findings showed that while filling stations are going out of kerosene, the smaller retailers who have the product in Lagos and Ogun sold it for as high as N450 and N600 per litre. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC) and its subsidiary, PPMC, were not available for comments.

NNPC spokesperson, Mallam Garbadeen Muhammed, neither picked calls on his cell phone nor responded to a text message seeking his reaction to the scarcity. In Abuja, the product is mostly sold at the “black market” at a very exorbitant price. A litre of the product goes for as much as N270 to N300, depending on the area.

A factional secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigerian (IPMAN), Alhaji Danladi Pasali, said that the product is in high demand. Pasali said that some industries use kerosene for one thing or the other in the process of manufacturing their products.

In Kano, residents have dumped the use of kerosene for charcoal and firewood following the rising cost. The product now sells at N1,200 a gallon from just N500. Mrs. Kemi Oladifo, who is a resident of Tudunmurtala, a locality of Nassarawa Local Government in Kano, told our correspondent that she used to buy like two gallons and sell to neighbours, until the price rose to over N1000, forcing her out of business.

She said that most of those that used to purchase from her have now dumped kerosene for charcoal and firewood because they cannot afford N200 for a bottle.A beer bottle of kerosene now sells between N160 and N200 in Oyo State.

At some major stations, which dispense it, a litre is N220. Mrs. Bukola Oyekola, a secondary school teacher in Ibadan, said: “Use of stove has now become a difficult thing as a beer bottle of kerosene now costs N180, unlike less than N100 we used to buy it before. The price of gas has also gone.

Charcoal is now the alternative in many homes. With the current non-payment of salary in this state, I have been compelled to improvise a saw dust-powered stove as alternative to kerosene.” It is the same story in Plateau State as many houses have shifted from using kerosene to charcoal, gas and firewood. Kerosene now sells for N250 per litre in filling stations, while a gallon of four litres goes between N1,450 and N1,500 in a market. A visit to the popular charcoal market in Jos, witnessed a lot of people patronising the market.

Mrs. Phoebe Dawal told New Telegraph, at the charcoal market in Jos, that: “We had to start buying charcoal because kerosene is costly now. We normally use kerosene throughout cooking at home. But now, we buy charcoal and even firewood to mix so that it would serve us at home.”

Investigation also revealed that it is hard for individuals to get the kerosene at the filling stations even at the cost of N250 because the filling station owners prefer dealing with middle marketers, who buy in large quantity and thereafter sell to individuals.

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